While all of you are grumbling about the cold weather, growing piles of snow in parking lots, and short days, I’ll be sitting right over here wearing my sweatpants and a contented smile. I cherish every single moment of winter, and would certainly not want to live somewhere that doesn’t get one.
All too soon, I will no longer be able to sit comfortably in front of a warm fire all evening, skip my morning garden chores in favor of snuggling into bed a little longer, or feel perfectly justified staying inside the house all day reading or working on an embroidery project. And, pretty soon, as unlikely as it seems now, I will no longer feel like having a mug of homemade hot chocolate. Really, I won’t. Hot chocolate in the summer just ain’t right.
So, I’ll have it now, and so should you. Don’t even think about reaching for any of that crappy mix you buy in the supermarket. When you indulge, do it up big and with the real thing – in this case, whole milk, a blend of quality dark and milk chocolate, and a subplot of espresso and vanilla – and you’ll feel supremely satisfied. Use the best chocolate you can find!
I usually find homemade hot chocolate recipes to be a little too rich and heavy, more like a drinking chocolate. But, this one from my idol Ina Garten, who never lets me down, incorporates milk chocolate which makes it much easier to drink. The original recipe calls for a mix of milk and half and half, but I used only whole milk because I didn’t want to buy half and half – it was still plenty decadent. I usually halve the recipe and it’s just enough for The Prez and me.
4 1/2 cups whole milk
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces chopped milk chocolate
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. instant espresso or coffee powder
4-5 cinnamon sticks for serving
Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just barely simmering. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the chopped chocolate until melted. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla extract and espresso powder. Ladle your homemade hot chocolate into mugs and serve garnished with a cinnamon stick.
Sip while watching the snow falling gently outside your window. Bonus points for snuggling with a warm puppy, fuzzy cat, or your sweetie.
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